It looked early like it might be a long night for the Braves offensively against rising prospect Josiah Gray, but four solo homers propelled the club to a 4-2 lead after falling into an early 2-0 deficit. Travis d’Arnaud snuck his first home run over the left field wall since returning from the injured list in the 5th. Ozzie Albies followed in the 6th with a homer to right-center, his 21st of the year. Austin Riley cranked an opposite-field shot in the 7th to give Atlanta the lead. And Dansby Swanson delivered some much-needed insurance in the 9th with a solo shot to left-center.
Charlie Morton was not sharp early on and allowed two to score in the first frame, but he settled in beautifully to work six innings of two-run ball. Morton struck out seven, including the final two batters he faced in the sixth inning to wiggle out of a jam. His ERA on the season sits at 3.49.
The turning point in the game likely came in the 4th inning as Josh Bell was thrown out at home plate with a perfect throw from Adam Duvall in left field. If Duvall doesn’t make the throw, Washington takes a 3-0 lead and the rally continues. Instead, it kept the deficit at two, and the offense turned it on from there.
Richard Rodriguez navigated two singles to begin the seventh with some slick defense behind him. Dansby Swanson alertly threw out the lead runner at third base on a ball in which he had no chance of turning a double play on, and a fortuitous bounce off Rodriguez’s ankle ricocheted right to Riley, who tossed to second for the second out of the inning. Swanson made a diving catch in the hole for the final out of the frame.
Tyler Matzek struck out two in the eighth, working around a two-out double to maintain the lead.
In what has become typical Will Smith 9th inning fashion, he hit the first batter he faced and walked the next. Thankfully, he bounced back with a fly out and pair of strikeouts to end the game. Exhale.
The game was delayed more than three hours from its original start time due to heavy rain in the area.
The Braves and Nationals will continue their series on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. ET (weather permitting) with Max Fried and Patrick Corbin scheduled on the mound.